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Agricultural Mayhem

20 January 2013, 18:03

Today I drove out of the Kruger Park at Paul Kruger Gate. About 10 km's out of the park, I passed the old Lisbon Estate farm stall, where we used to always buy lovely mangoes and citrus. (In the old days, pre 2000) The farm stall is gutted, even the walls are caving in. Then looking into the estate, I see the dead and dying orchards. They were huge orchards.

Lisbon Estate used to be the largest producer of mangoes in Africa. It employed 1000 people at its peak, and exported 1.2 million cartons of citrus and mangoes. A while back I went to an auction there. An entire shed of fertiliser was sold for next to nothing, the bags were perishing (in the shade, nogal) There was brand new equipment, still in its wrappings. I saw some really fancy stuff with "EU" stickers, donated stuff.

Brand new tractors standing with flat tyres. Everything was sold off to big farmers with big trucks, all in huge batch's. It was incredible - witnessing the final moments of the complete collapse of one of the biggest farms in Africa.

Further down the road I passed Saringwa Estate on the right. All the citrus orchards had reverted to bush and grassland.

So when I got home I did some research. The demise of these 2 estates is the tip of the iceberg. It all started when our "new" government took over - by means of its parastatal - ARDC, Agriculture and Rural Development Corporation.

As soon as they took over there was rapid collapse, the most catastrophic being the Zebedelia estate (500 000 trees!), at one stage the biggest in the world of its type. Basically by mismanagement, the farms completely collapsed and were gutted. 1000's of jobs were very soon lost, massive export revenues for our country down the tube.

Apparently the staff at Saringwa cut the trees down and sold them for firewood. They had made a good living before then, of a salary and profit share. But once in there hands, without management, they just destroyed it - absolutely and completely. At Lisbon they replaced managers with 40 years experience with people who could not even read financial statements. 

Devious deals were gone into with a farming management company, and very quickly, these massively successful farms are history today. For detail read Dr Philip du Toits books. He mentions all the corruption and gross mismanagement, its quite complex. Sometimes 95% of budget went to wages, 5% to running costs - ridiculous stuff like that.

I want to know if there will ever be accountability? Will the ANC ever be made to apologise for this gross injustice to so many people? Or at least make the people of ARDC pay for the massive losses they have caused.

I can fully understand why so many white farmers are perplexed that their land is claimed, yet all they ever witness of land that does go back "to the people", is they completely and utterly destroy it. Will  someody ever apologise for this gross injustice?

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